Studies, Dancefloors and Perspective

Studies, Dancefloors and Perspective

 This article forms part of our new MORE THAN A PLAYER series, in conjunction with the BKT URC who take you off the pitch and into the personal lives of Rugby Players Ireland’s members.


Ulster’s Luke Marshall has had plenty of trials and tribulations throughout his storied career.

He spent 10 months on the sidelines after injuring his anterior cruciate ligament in May 2018 before spending a further 16 months out of action following a second knee injury in March of 2022.

He has been capped 11 times by Ireland and no doubt would have added to those had he not spent so long out injured but that hasn’t stopped him from racking up an impressive 174 appearances and counting for Ulster in the BKT URC.

Marshall has also been working hard off the pitch studying for his QFA qualifications, which are a certificate in financial advice.

“There are three exams for the level fours, so I’ve done two of them and I’m trying to pick when to finish the third one, so I’d have a level four qualification then for financial advice,” Marshall tells us.

“I started, jeepers now, about four years ago. It took me a while!

“I tried it when I first came out of school and failed miserably and dropped out! I was in the Ulster academy and struggling to balance them both.

“I spoke to my Dad and he said ‘there was no point’ in doing both of them half-a**ed. You might as well focus on one, you’ve limited time to give rugby a crack. You can study whenever you want to.”

Those lay-offs have of course been a struggle over the years but Marshall says his family have always been there for him to get through it.

He even got married while recovering from the first one and recounts a funny tale, showing he can see the lighter side of it now that it’s all in the past, now.

“My family has been really good to me,” Marshall says.

“The first one I got was back in 2018 and then I got married that summer.

“I got the surgery three weeks before I got married. I should have been on crutches for my wedding day but I managed to get off them.

“I actually hurt my knee while I was on the dancefloor! I wasn’t supposed to dance at all but the band put Riverdance on!

“I didn’t hurt it badly but I shouldn’t have been on the dancefloor!

The 33-year-old also does his bit to bring the Ulster lads together for some charity work with RPI and he’s grateful for the opportunity to help out where he can.

“Darren Cave used to lead the Rugby Players Ireland (RPI) charity side of things and once he retired he asked if would I take it on,” Marshall adds.

“I organised the players and that but a lot of the heavy lifting would have been done by Pamela Gilpin from RPI and Christina Mahon.

“They were brilliant. They were the ones organising whether it was going into the Simon Community or speaking to homeless people. I remember we went in and built furniture one day.

“We would have organised Christmas presents too for underprivileged families. I really enjoyed it.

“I think stuff like that, especially when you’re playing professional rugby, in the grand scheme of things rugby is a cushty career. You’re getting well paid to do your hobby and run around like an eejit.

“When you go in and see people that are properly suffering, it really gives you perspective on life and makes you realise how lucky you are.”

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